I ask them what they’ve brought to the fair in terms of “high-point” books, be these valuable books or simply their favorites. They respond with a litany of items, all of which are photographed and/or well described/captioned in their catalogue. They proudly exhibit to me:
- Item #54-Simon Bolivar’s letter to Sucre, congratulating him on having founded Bolivia. Price available upon request.
- Item #81-Document in which Cuba delivers officially
- Item #82-Collection of Peruvian Watercolors, street scenes from Lima
- Item #96-1st ed. of Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude, emendated with over 100 corrections by him.
- Item #21-Torquemada, J.
- Item #48-Torquemada, J.
This seems like as good a time as any to ask about their own pricing. I say that I notice that many of the better items in their catalogue are marked “Price available upon request,” and I ask just how they determine pricing for a specific book or manuscript. Is it based on the somewhat traditional formula of scarcity plus condition plus importance in the canon or some other formula altogether? Alfredo bravely answers this one (a question that many booksellers routinely refuse to answer): “Yes, I’d say generally it’s what you said: scarcity plus condition plus importance in the canon. Of course we are defining a canon that didn’t exist before, so it can get kind of tricky. In terms of scarcity, we consult professors and collectors as well as the traditional bibliographies, the OCLC, and of course AE. We also have a 100 volume dictionary of the Spanish world that we couldn’t live without. But in pricing sometimes, like everyone else, we make our mistakes and sometimes we learn from our mistakes and sometimes we take profit from the mistakes of other dealers,” he chuckles.